Mixing Alcohol and Sleeping Pills - What You Need to Know

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited :JULY 04, 
| 3 Sources

Mixing alcohol and sleeping pillsSleeping pills are widely used to treat insomnia, but it is important for people who abuse alcohol or have a drinking problem to be aware of the effects that these two substances can have on each other.

Alcohol and sleeping pills both disrupt sleep patterns which may lead to withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, seizures, hallucinations and psychosis.

This can be a dangerous combination given the increased risk of overdose when combining alcohol and a sedative medication. Medical professionals recommend that those struggling with alcoholism should not take any prescription medication without consulting their physician first.

This blog post will discuss how drinking alcohol with sleeping pills has negative side effects, why it is important to stop immediately, and what treatments are available for addiction recovery.

What happens when you take sleeping pills while drinking?

Many people take sleeping pills to help them sleep. They might also drink alcohol before going to bed to ensure that they fall asleep quickly. The problem is that the alcohol can disrupt their sleep patterns, and sometimes cause them to wake up in the middle of the night.

You might have heard that alcohol and sleeping pills can be mixed together to help you fall asleep, but the truth is more complicated. It's not always a good idea to mix these two substances because they have different effects on sleep patterns at night and during the daytime.

 Alcohol disrupts our natural body rhythms by suppressing REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which causes us to wake up in the middle of the night or feel fatigued throughout the day. Sleeping pills only work if you're able to reach deep slow wave sleep, so mixing them with alcohol means it'll take longer for you to get there!

  • When combined, sleep aids and alcohol can also have some dangerous side effects such as:
  • It may be difficult to tell when you have consumed too much alcohol, and the effects of a sleep aid will not help.
  • There are many legal medications that can cause drowsiness which is why it’s recommended by doctors to avoid taking sleeping pills if you plan on drinking any alcoholic beverages in case this leads to an overdose.
  • The risk of getting into a car accident or experiencing some other form of injury increases because these substances impair your judgement and coordination. It also affects how safe you feel around others who could potentially hurt you while under the influence.
mixing alcohol and sleeping pillsPhoto by Yuris Alhumaydy

How to Avoid Mixing Alcohol and Sleeping Pills

Both alcohol and sleeping pills are depressants which means that mixing alcohol and sleeping pills together, can have a synergistic effect. This type of cocktail is called "the deadly duo." If consumed in large enough quantities, this combo could lead to overdose or death. In order to avoid mixing these two types of drugs, follow these simple tips:

  • Avoid taking sleeping pills right after drinking alcohol. Wait a minimum of four hours before you take your next dose.
  • Don’t take any other type of depressant while under the influence, as this could also lead to overdose or death
  • Be aware that some prescription medications may have warnings against drinking alcohol while on them; remember these when choosing what over-the counter drugs to purchase at the pharmacy!
  • Take care not to mix chemicals with one another in order to avoid very serious risks such as accidental death or long-term health problems like liver disease and depression.

Consequences of Mixing Alcohol and Sleeping Pills

Mixing alcohol and sleeping pills can be lethal. Alcohol is a depressant that depresses the central nervous system, while sleep medications are designed to promote relaxation and induce sleep. When these two substances interact, they will have an additive effect on one another, which means that your chances of overdosing on both drugs increase significantly.

When taking either medication alone there is always the risk of side effects like drowsiness or impaired motor skills; but when combined with alcohol you're at risk for experiencing those same side effects to an even greater degree.

How Do You Know If You Need Treatment for a Sleeping Pill or Alcohol Addiction?

Many people who are struggling with addiction don't know if they have a sleeping pill or alcohol addiction. This is the reason why so many people suffer from this problem for years before seeking treatment! To help you gain a better understanding, lets take a minute to look at the difference between a sleeping pill addiction and an addiction to alcohol.

A sleeping pill addiction can be identified by the following symptoms: feeling like you're in a foggy daze when you wake up, uncomfortable feelings of unease and restlessness after taking your medication, not being able to fall asleep without taking your medication, and not going more than one day without needing your prescription.

Alcohol abuse has similar symptoms as well but there are also some key differences that distinguish it as an addictive substance. For example, most alcohol abusers will drink alone and need to have a constant supply of alcohol. Alcoholics also usually become irritable when they go more than one day without drinking.

Treatment Options for People Who Have Been Abusing Sleep Aids and/or Drinking Too Much Alcohol

A person who is addicted to sleep aids and/or alcohol may need professional help. There are a variety of treatment options that can be used for people with these types of addictions,(mixing alcohol and sleeping pills) such as :

  • inpatient or outpatient programs, 
  • individual therapy, 
  • group therapy,
  • other therapeutic options.

It is important to remember that the earlier someone gets help for their addiction, the better. The more time an individual spends abusing sleep aids and/or alcohol, the harder it will be treating them during rehab or therapy sessions. This can also lead to a person developing other problems such as anxiety disorders or depression.

It's best not just to cut off these substances cold turkey in order to prevent this from happening. Stopping abuse of any kind should always be done slowly with professional guidance so there are no adverse effects on mental health or physical wellbeing - this is true even if you're addicted only to one substance like drugs or alcohol, but especially when both are abused at once!

The Importance of Getting Help to Stop Taking Sleep Aids or Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Many people rely on sleep aids or alcohol to help them through their day. However, this is a dangerous habit that can lead to addiction and death. If you are struggling with your use of sleep aids or drinking too much alcohol, here are some ways to get professional help for yourself:

  • Find a treatment center that specializes in sleep aids or alcohol addiction. Contact your insurance company to see if they will pay for the service. You can also look at other sources of financial assistance, such as government funding and nonprofit organizations
  • Consider attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in person or online to find common support with others who are struggling like you

If you think there is no way out from using sleep aids or drinking too much alcohol, please reach out for help today! Getting professional care before it's too late could be the difference between life and death.

Mixing Alcohol and Sleeping Pills - Conclusion

The information in this post should help you determine if you need to get treatment for a sleeping pill or alcohol addiction. Treating these addictions is hard work and takes time, but it's worth the effort.

Remember that when dealing with sleep aids abuse and alcoholism we're not just talking about your health - we're also talking about your family life, finances, career success, friendships...the list goes on!

You deserve the best possible outcome from healing your addiction so don't give up. Make sure to explore all of the options available before deciding which one will be right for you.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

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